FROM SAHARA TO TIBET: IN ROME THE LARGEST RETROSPECTIVE DEVOTED TO GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER KAZUYOSHI NOMACHI

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF PRESS OFFICE / “NOMACHI:LE VIE DEL SACRO” EXHIBITION,  2013-2014, ROME.

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“Kazuyoshi Nomachi: Le Vie del Sacro” (The Ways of the Sacred) is the title of a great show hosted in Rome (Italy) at La Pelanda, Centro di Produzione Culturale, Piazza Orazio Giustiniani 4, from December 14, 2013 to May 4, 2014. 

The exhibition is described as the largest retrospective devoted to Kazuyoshi Nomachi as well as the first time that the work of Japanese photographer has been exhibited in the West. There are about 200 images in the exhibition which is divided into seven sections spanning the photographer’s 40-year career. Nomachi has documented various peoples and ancient traditions in some of the world’s most remote places, always obtaining a level of discretion, even sacredness in his work.

 Kazuyoshi Nomachi has always been a documentary photographer, since his first trip in the Sahara when he was twenty five years. In Africa was fascinated by the great outdoors and the strength of the people who live in such difficult environments. For over 40 years, around the theme “the prayer of the search for the sacred”, he turned his attention to the most diverse traditional cultures which            are the expression of the peoples who inhabit the lands harsher, to the four corners of the world. Nomachi was able to capture the spirituality that runs through the landscapes of unique and extraordinary beauty, where the portraits and human figures assume an absolute dignity and blend with the context in almost pictorial            compositions, dominated by a dazzling light, real and transcendental at the same time, as we admire in the wonderful exhibition in Rome.

http://www.mostranomachi.it/

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 THE SEVEN SECTIONS OF THE EXHIBITION

DESCRIBED BY KAZUYOSHI NOMACHI  

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a land of plateaux and deserts, divided in two by the Rift Valley, where tectonic activity continues to lacerate the African continent. The country is characterized by great diversity, and the areas inhabited by man range from uplands at an altitude of 3,500 meters to desert 115 meters below sea level. Eighty-three ethnic groups live here, each holding fast to their own culture. In the midst of a “Sea of Islam”, a Christian culture, which has been passed on from generation to generation since ancient times, still survives in these isolate uplands at an average altitude of 2,500 meters. During its 3,000-year history, Ethiopia has always maintained close relations with Arabia and Palestine across the Red Sea, rather than with Black Africa. In the mountains of North Ethiopia, I have seen churches carved out of the rocks and isolated monasteries where worship is the same as it was in biblical times.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Ganges

The great river Ganges originates in the Himalayan glaciers, flows across the Indian plains for 2,500 kilometers and empties into the Bay of Bengal. This muddy river, swollen by monsoon rains, is a perennial source of irrigation for Indian agriculture, and its waters, profoundly linked to the veneration of Shiva, are worshipped. The sins of those who immerse themselves in the Ganges are washed away, and people who scatter the ashes of their dead upon its waters allow the deceased’s soul to be reborn in heaven, freed from the sufferings of reincarnation. I have visited several of the many sacred places along the banks of the river, which are always crowded with pilgrims. At the Maha Kumbh Mela festival, the main Indian religious event that astrologers have decreed should take place every 12 years, tens of millions of Hindus gather to pray, participating in ceremonies and rituals inherited from ancient India.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Islam

Islamic faith, that advocates the worship of Allah as the one God, was founded in the 7th century by Muhammad, a merchant in Mecca. One hundred years later it had taken a firm hold and expanded to constitute a vast cultural area stretching from the Iberian peninsula to India. The teachings of Islam – whose heart lies in Mecca where the Kaaba, the symbol of Allah, is located – have spread throughout the world, and today there are 1.6 billion believers. According to the Quran, all Muslims must undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. I had the privilege of photographing the sacred site thanks to a Saudi publisher.

The pilgrimage is the fulcrum of Islamic faith, the source of its vitality. The Shiite Muslims live mainly in Iran and the surrounding regions. Since their credo is influenced by the religious beliefs of ancient Persia, there are facets of Shiite Islam that are not evident in the strict monotheism of the Arabian Peninsula.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Sahara

The land gradually becomes more arid as you cross over the high Atlas Mountains then head south; the road leads to an extremely dry area composed of layers of sand and rock. As soon as you get past the hostile, towering rocks, you find yourself in a world of sand, sculpted in breathtaking, undulating dunes. The vast emptiness continues, even after driving for three or four days and is only broken by the green patches of the oasis.The magnitude of Sahara does not lie solely in its vastness: until a few thousand years ago, it used to be a part of a wet climate zone as can be seen from the images depicting life and animals carved in the rocks of the mountainous areas over a period of 8,000 years.

When I discovered the Sahara in 1972, I was completely captivated by it. On my return trips I felt time and again that I had perceived its true nature, which is hardly visible and seems almost hidden by a veil”.

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Nile

I was 34 years old when, in October 1980, I began exploring the Nile in a jeep that I had brought from Europe. The diverse nature and the people along the Nile absolutely enchanted me. I was particularly fascinated by a tribe of herdsmen living with their animals, like they did in prehistoric times, in South Sudan. Sadly, this region has been turned into a wasteland by the endless civil war and the famine that began in 1983. When South Sudan gained independence in 2011, I had a great desire to see what had happened to that tribe of breeders with my own eyes. After 32 years, I stood again in the endless wilderness where livestock and men coexist. Despite the fact that modern civilization has now penetrated the remotest regions in Africa, the lifestyle of these herdsmen has basically remained the same: they still live amidst the smoke from burning cow dung to ward off the mosquitoes.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Tibet

My first travels to Tibet date to the end of the 1980s. The Tibetan plateau stretches into the heart of Asia, way beyond the Himalayas. The average altitude is 3,500 meters in these cold uplands, where vegetation is scant.

The people survive on pasturage and make their living raising yak, which are acclimatized to the high altitude. Tibet is a devout Buddhist country. After inheriting Buddhism from India, Tibetans deepened it through their unique sensitivity and their view of life, forged by the harshness of a rigid climate. In contrast to other Buddhist countries, where the religion became vulgarized over time and gradually distanced itself from the original form, the Tibetans have shaped their society through the enrichment of Buddhist teachings founded on the theory of reincarnation. Western countries now refer to Tibetan Buddhism as ‘the’ Buddhism. This is partly due to the Tibetans’ optimism and gentleness, which stem from their belief in the equality of life, nurtured by the finite ecology of Tibet and the Himalayas.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

Andes

The North and south Americas were cut off from Eurasia until Columbus discovered the ‘new continents’, while the original Inca culture had expanded to the high Andes in the South American continent: however, when the Spanish arrived there in the 16th century, the vast Inca empire was destroyed in a flash. It was a tragic encounter between the strongest nation in the world, which sailed across the Atlantic to colonize the Inca, and a people who had no knowledge of the outside world. The Spanish conquerors forced a part of the population of the Andes to convert to Christianity. The Inca secretly incorporated the traditional Inca faith in the Christian religion, transforming it into a unique form of Andes Christianity. The origin of the Quyllur Rit’i pilgrimage, on which I went in 2004, lies in the legend that Jesus Christ incarnate appeared on a high mountain near Cusco, at a place the Incas believed to be holy ground.”

Kazuyoshi Nomachi

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 ABOUT KAZUYOSHI NOMACHI

http://www.nomachi.com/index_en.html

Kazuyoshi Nomachi was born in Japan in 1946 in Kochi Prefecture. He studied  at Kochi Technical High School and started taking photographs then as a teenager. In 1969 He studied photography under Takashi Kijima. In 1971 he began his career as a freelance advertising photographer and in the next year he made his first trip to the Sahara where he was shocked to see the strong life of the people living under the harsh environment of the area. This made him to switch his career to  photojournalism.

Through his long experience at the extreme dryness of the Sahara, he gained an inspiration from the Nile which was fostered as the theme, The Nile ever lasting water flow that never dry up while running through the dryness of the Saharah. With this theme, from 1980 he started his coverage of the White Nile from the Nile Delta up to its first drip of water at an iceberg in Uganda and up the Blue Nile to its origin at the highlands of Ethiopia. The coverage of the two flows allowed him to capture the images of the strength of the environment and the people of this vast region of Africa.

Since 1988 he turned his attention to Asia. With the occasion of his coverage of the western areas of China, he got attracted with the people living at the extreme altitude of Tibet and the Buddhism. This encounter led to his visit to almost whole area of Tibetan cultural zone and initiated his visit to the origins and the whole area of the sacred Ganges which is also the roots of Hinduism from 2004 to 2008. From 1995 to 2000 Nomachi had access to the holiest city of Islam and travels for five years in Saudi Arabia, having the very opportunity to photograph the largest annual pilgrimage to Mecca and  Medina. It had been the first to document so deep and wide the miraculous pilgrimage of over 2 million Muslims towards their holy city, Mecca.

From 2002, he visited the Andes highlands, Peru and Bolivia with a theme of the blending of the catholic belief with the Inca civilization. His visit to this area still continue since then. Concentrated in 12 major anthological issues, his photographs have been published worldwide and appeared in major photo magazines, such as The National Geographic, GEO and Stern. The work carried out in the Sahara, along the Nile, in Ethiopia, Tibet and Arabia, have aroused great admiration over the years , even in Western countries and have won numerous awards, including the Annual Award of the Photographic Society of Japan in 1990 and 1997 and the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon in 2009.

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(HE)ART PLACES / THE MYSTERIOUS LONGOBARD CRYPT (8TH CENTURY) ON MOUNT AMIATA IN TUSCANY

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

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In Abbadia San Salvatore, on Mount AmiataSiena country, Tuscany, Italythere is a magical and capturing place. You find it on the ancient Benedectine abbey. It’s a Crypt where we breath the history and the beauty of one of the most fascinating Tuscany villages. According the documents, the Crypt was built in VIII Century. It was restored in XX Century and now we may admire it in all its beauty.

The Longobard crypt shows 32 columns that form 13 small aisles. They are made in various shapes; some of them are round, with different sculpured ornaments. Also the beautiful capitals are sculptured in various shapes, as palm leaves, loto flowers or animal heads. This Benedectine monastery was founded by Erfo, a Longobard nobleman, in the VIII Century, under King Astolfo, and it was dedicated to the Saviour, which was typical of that people and in the tradition of christian religion. It rose on the east side of Mount Amiata in order to reclaim the surrounding woods and forests. It also overlooked the Via Francigena, running through the Paglia Valley.

The imperial abbey greatly developed in the Carolingian period thanks to Charlemagne‘s and Ludovick‘s confirmation of its landed propertues and privileges, Around the year 1000, under Abbot Winizo, it increased its power by acquiring new territories. The church and the crypt were rebuilt in 1036. In 1228 the monastery passed to the Cistercians. It was suppressed by grand-duke Pietro Leopoldo in 1782 and re-opened later. In the year 1087, a certain Miciarello and his wife Gualdrada made a donation in favour of the monastery of St Saviour. Below the donation document, the notary Ranieri signed three verses, commonly known as “Cartula Amiatina” (“The Amiata Footnote”). This extemporary poem represents to linguists the first voice of vernacular coming from Tuscany. That is, the first expressions recording the evolution of the Italian language.

But this is not the only important document about Amiata History. Till XIX Century, the monastery hosted the famous “Bibbia Amiatina”“The Amiata Bible” – which is considered the oldest latin version ever known. The Amiata Bible – a true masterpiece, written by amanuensis monks – is now kept in Florence, but we may see a photo-reproduction in the Monastery Museum.

PHOTOGALLERY / IN THE MAGICAL UNDERGROUNDS OF THE NEW PERMANENT COLLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY ART (MARCHE, ITALY) DISPLAYING A “LACER/ACTIONS” PIECE…

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Guest writer: Nicola Rossi

It’s not so usual today to open a great public space for art. But this incredible challenge has been won by Italian artist and curator Pasquale Martini and all his collaborators. The new Permanent Collection of Contemporary Art, located in the enchanting undergrounds of Palazzo Gasparini (a XVII Century palace), officially opened in Mercatello sul Metauro, a fascinating medieval and Renaissance town in Marche region (Pesaro Urbino, Italy). The Permanet Collection – displayed in a beautiful and magical space which was completely restored – opened as a completion of St. Francis Museum of Ancient Art.

The permanent exhibition presents 158 works including 32 sculptures and 126 paintings by established national and international artists. All this  was made possible thanks to enthusiasm, passion and tenacity of artist and sculptor Pasquale Martini who has involved in the ambitious and prestigious project, the mayor of Mercatello, Giovanni Pistola, with the Municipal Administration, the local tourism association (Pro Loco) and the whole community. The official catalogue has been entirely published with the contribution and sponsorship of Banca dell’Adriatico.

In a really special room – as you may see in this photo-gallery – has been also displayed the work created by Roberto Alborghetti for his “Lacer/actions” project concerning the research about images of torn and decomposed publicity posters and urban tokens. The piece is titled “There ‘s some chaos, with a focal point” (canvas, 63 x 43). The realistic and not manipulated image was “captured” in Milan during a cloudy day on December 2010.

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF BARBARA SCHLICHTE

"THERE'S SOME CHAOS, WITH A FOCAL POINT", ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI, 2010, REALISTIC IMAGE ON PICTORIAL CANVAS, 63X43, OWNED BY PERMANENT COLLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY ART, MERCATELLO S/M, MARCHE, ITALY

“THERE’S SOME CHAOS, WITH A FOCAL POINT”, ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI, 2010, REALISTIC IMAGE ON PICTORIAL CANVAS, 63X43, OWNED BY PERMANENT COLLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY ART, MERCATELLO S/M, MARCHE, ITALY

(HE)ART PLACES / BILBAO (BASQUE REGION, SPAIN) WHERE THE FUTURE HAS REGENERATED A CITY…

© PHOTOS: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

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Bilbao (Basque region, Spain) is one of the most amazing cities of Europe. It had the courage to develop itself in a new identity based on culture and art. I had the pleasure to visit it a few years ago. And I was really astonished by a city where I had the sensation to walk in the future and in the past in the same time.

Its 700 years history can be seen in its buildings and constructions. The old town is an Historic-Artistic Monument and a reference point for reconstructing the city’s history from its beginnings. It is an example of urban regeneration, with more than 400 shops of all kinds. The city centre is an example of the best 20th century architecture, with buildings that have been housing the main institutions and companies in Bilbao for more than a hundred years. It is an outstanding architectural site, always designed by the best local architects. 

Nonetheless, the city continues to expand: alongside the skill of local architects, the top international firms are represented with works by Foster, Gehry, Calatrava, Isozaki, Pelli… I visited the incredible Guggenheim Museum, where I saw nice art installations and masterpieces (see the next second part of the post). Along the “Gran Via”, in the city centre, I admired a beautiful “open air” exhibition of seven Rodin sculptures, with the famous “Thinker”. In Bilbao culture and art become life. Despite the social problems of the region (autonomist movements), people are really friendly – but don’t call them “Spanish”, they are “Basques” – and conscious to be and to live in a city which walks in the future.

 1 – TO BE CONTINUED

“PILGRIMAGE” EXHIBITION: DISCOVERING THE SLOW TRAVEL AT MUSEUM DER KULTUREN IN BASEL (SWITZERLAND)

 

The Museum der Kulturen in Basel (Switzerland) opened its “Pilgrimage” exhibition (September 14 – March 3, 2013) dedicated to the rediscovery of slow travel. People began wandering many centuries ago in search of inner peace, truth and contemplation. The reasons why people should embark on such gruelling endeavours are many and varied, and it seems that religion is not necessarily the prime motive. What all pilgrims have in common, however, is related to a search, in the widest sense of the term.

The fact that journeyers often report a sense of revitalization led Europe curator Dominik Wunderlin to devote an exhibition to the subject: “The subject of pilgrimage is inevitably bound up with the Way of St. James. There are many other paths which lead to a holy place. The exhibition shows that Europe is also interlaced with pilgrimage routes, representing an awe-inspiring heritage. We need to treasure them”, says Wunderlin.

Many roads lead to Rome. The exhibition is not exclusively devoted to the Way of St. James. A starting point is Jerusalem in the Holy Land, which is Europe’s earliest sacred destination. Visitors experience what pilgrims from the Middle Ages would have gone through and their motivation for doing so. At the same, time they see what a modern-day journey involves and what inspires people today to take such a step. The various displays illuminate subjects such as preparation and departure, pilgrim saints, customs, symbols, destinations, arts and crafts and the trades that benefit from pilgrimage, etc. The focal point will be exhibits from the last few centuries, which lure the visitor into a world of beliefs that today appears alien and curious. The exhibition takes an impressive look at the cultural and historical background giving rise to the current resurgence in interest in modern-day pilgrimages. The exhibition continues through March 3, 2013.

MUSEUM DER KULTUREN IN BASEL

ABSTRACT STATE OF MIND / COLORS & SIGNS OF A DECOMPOSED PUBLICITY POSTER – LACER/ACTIONS POSTCARDS # 12

ABSTRACT STATE OF MIND – ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI LACER/ACTIONS ART – LITHOGRAPH, 50X70 (FRAMED), 2009

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Abstract State Of Mind”

LaceR/Actions Project

Realistic and not manipulated image

Lithograph, 70×50 (framed)

Location: Amsterdam, 2009

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Roberto Alborghetti ‘s LaceR/Actions is a multidisciplinary project and research about the apparent chaos of ripped and decomposed posters and urban/street signs.

Transferred on canvas, reproduced on lithographs or textiles (as pure silk), or scanned in videoclips, the details of torn posters give new life to paper lacerations and decomposition, as you may see in this “postcard” reproducing one of the 40.000 images captured by Roberto Alborghetti during his research all around the world.

His next big show (“Colors of an Apocalypse: An Intrigue for the Eyes and Mind from the Decomposed Publicity Posters”) will take place at Aldobrandesca Fortress (XIII Century) in Tuscany, from October 6 to November 4, 2012 .

MY PAPER SKY… FROM A DECOMPOSED PUBLICITY POSTER – LACER/ACTIONS POSTCARDS # 11

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI “LACER/ACTIONS” ART – IMAGES OF TORN AND DECOMPOSED PUBLICITY POSTERS – “PAPER SKY”

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“Paper Sky”

Realistic and not manipulated image

LaceR/Actions Project

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Roberto Alborghetti ‘s LaceR/Actions is a multidisciplinary project and research about the apparent chaos of ripped and decomposed posters and urban/street signs.

Transferred on canvas, reproduced on lithographs or textiles (as pure silk), or scanned in videoclips, the details of torn posters give new life to paper lacerations and decomposition, as you may see in this “postcard” reproducing one of the 40.000 images captured by Roberto Alborghetti during his research all around the world.

His next big show (“Colors of an Apocalypse: An Intrigue for the Eyes and Mind from the Decomposed Publicity Posters”) will take place at Aldobrandesca Fortress (XIII Century) in Tuscany, from October 6 to November 4, 2012 .